DISCLAIMER: For the last time, I don't own Pokemon.


Seven Years Later…

Epilogue: A Trainer's Spirit

"Ash Ketchum, you idiot, we are going to be late!"

"Hey, Misty, don't get your hair in a knot!"

"It already is in a knot, for the ceremony!"

"It was a joke."

"Not a funny one." Misty humphed before slapping Ash on the shoulder. "Get moving! You're the best man, so you can't be late. Don't worry, I'll look after Pikachu."

"Of course you will." Ash replied with a smile as he tossed a pokeball into the air. With deftness, Ash hopped onto Charizard's back and the two quickly sped off toward the Pokemon League. He ran a hand through his black locks and enjoyed the feel of the wind on his face. As he approached the League he gazed upon it with a smile as its green plains and pristine buildings were restored. At the top of the League itself was the crystalline statue that was Mewtwo. A slight nod was given to the statue as he dipped low and hopped off of Charizard and strolled confidently through the gates of the Pokemon League. Numerous people shouted greetings to him and he waved at all of them with a confident smile on his face.

"There you are!" cried a shrill voice and Dawn came walking up to him at a brisk pace. Ash smiled at her sheepishly.

"Sorry, Dawn. Wow, look how big you've gotten!" Ash remarked and Dawn merely frowned at him, getting behind him and pushing him towards the room where Ash supposed that the groom was.

"Well, that's what happens when you get pregnant! Now get in there!" With a final shove, Ash stumbled forward into the room, causing the other three occupants to look up at him.

"Hey there, guys!" Ash greeted and Gary lazily saluted him while Max merely gave him a nod. "How you holding up Brock?" Brock didn't respond, other than a quick nod as he paced around the room.

"He's been like this the past hour. You know, when you were supposed to be here." Gary told him with a smirk and Ash shrugged his shoulders.

"Sorry, gym business." Ash told them and Max scoffed loudly. "What? We're you afraid he was going to run?"

"No, but I don't think he would have the guts to go through with this if you weren't here." Max commented. "Though, that might only have been because we got the room here since you sprang for it."

"What can I say? The Pokemon League compensates me well."

"So it does."

"Are you making fun of me?"

"Not by any means…Ashy-boy."

"That's it!" The doors opened at this moment and a young woman strolled in, her hair efficiently tied up in the back. Her mouth was a thin line as she glared at Ash, who gave a quick glance to the other two. Both of them stepped away to let Ash take the full brunt of the attack. But the woman didn't attack in anyway, simply heaving in a great breath.

"It's time." Brock made a loud noise and the other three males in the room rolled their eyes.

"I can't…I'm not…"

"Come on, Brock. You're getting married, even if we have to drag you there ourselves." Max proclaimed, grabbing Brock by one arm while Gary took hold of the other. Ash quickly started pushing Brock forward as the other two pulled.

"Let's face it Brock. We're not letting you walk away from this." Ash told him with a hint of laughter in his voice. "After all, when would you ever find another woman like Lucy." The sound of his soon-to-be wife's name seemed to placate him and the three of them were easily able to push him forward and into the hall, at which point the wedding planner took over. Silence filled the hall for a moment as the three waited for the ceremony to start, Ash becoming slightly antsy. It wasn't that he didn't know the proceedings of these things. After all, he had gotten married himself. He was just surprised that Brock was actually going through with it. A light tap on his shoulder showed Misty standing there with a smirk.

"Not gonna try any funny business with Anabel are you?" she asked.

"How could you possibly think that of me?" Misty said nothing else as the wedding planner shuffled around and started lining all of them up, Ash standing next to Anabel who was Lucy's Maid of Honor. Music started coming from the doors in front of them and Ash took Anabel's arm in his own. The rest of the ceremony was a blur to him. Though he did have to admit that he was very grateful he didn't have to stop Brock from running. Only a few hours later and Brock and Lucy were sitting happily in the reception hall at the League, Ash and Pikachu flicking food at Misty who retaliated in a similar fashion. Only moments later and it was time for Ash to make a speech.

"You know, I actually find this to be unbelievable," Ash commented, "I mean, who would've thought that Brock would have gotten married. I didn't. All jokes aside, I've known Brock for about, what, fifteen years now. When I first met him, I never imagined that we'd be the friends we are today. We've gone through a lot together, and having the chance to love and be loved I think is one of the greatest gifts we could have ever received. I mean, I know you two had some problems, what with Brock's googly eyes and all, but it's nice to see you worked through them. Welcome to the group of married couples!" A small cheer went up at that and soon after Anabel's own speech finished people hit the dance floor en masse.

Ash sat there, sipping on a glass of wine as he watched all of his friends on the dance floor. A sad smile stretched itself across his face. He was happy, he really was…but the scars had never healed…not fully. Misty was dancing with Brock on the dance floor and Ash couldn't help but laugh. Only three years ago had he and Misty tied the knot to one another and they could never be happier. Sure, some people might have said that twenty two was young to be married but Ash reasoned that with everything they had gone through, it was fine. The best part, of course, was the fact that Misty actually joined him all the time now. Soon after Ash had gotten back from his travels after the war, he had started up the first traveling gym. With that, he was allowed to have the first gym whose badge could count in any region. On top of that, he was also the first gym to hold all seventeen types. Of course, while Misty handled the more administrative aspects of the gym she did occasionally jump in with a water Pokemon battle.

Glancing over at her dance partner, Ash noted the more refined way that Brock carried himself now. It made sense, after all, Brock had helped to establish a well known Pokemon Healing and Breeding Center. On top of that, it had actually extended to numerous satellite location throughout the regions and was known to be one of the top locations if you needed a good Pokemon doctor. Ash, of course, knew that Brock had chosen to become a Pokemon doctor after the war, since so many Pokemon needed healing after that dreadful final battle. Shifting his eyes to the side he saw Gary talking with Max.

Both of them had become successful Pokemon researchers. Max often worked in tandem with Gary, especially since Professor Oak had passed away the year before. It was no surprise to any of them; Professor Oak was already an old man, and the wounds he had suffered in the attack on Pallet Town only compounded what was inevitable. Either way, after Tracy had left to start his own family and research facility with Daisy in Cerulean, Gary took over the reins of the Oak Laboratory with aplomb and had continued its name of prestige. Gary was also happy too, his girlfriend chatting it up with Max's own. With that, Ash couldn't help but snort. Sure, Max was just as prestigious as Gary was, and just as well known. Max had become a very different kind of researcher who study the effects of Pokemon and their relationships with trainers. It made him exceedingly different and Ash had a feeling that Max had chosen to do that in an effort to continually prove that Cyrus was wrong about the spirit. That made Ash happy and somewhat proud, proud mostly in the fact that he and Misty had managed to set Max up with the now grown up Molly Hale. And, boy, did they seem to hit it off.

A loud noise interrupted Ash's musings and he turned around to see Barry challenging Cynthia to a battle. Naturally Cynthia refused, but it was nice to see that Barry was just as energetic as ever. Barry was, in fact, the only one of them that was still a traveling trainer, though his goals were loftier than that. He did, after all, hope to take over the Battle Tower from his father when the chance came. He was closer to it than farther away. In the last year he had won the Sinnoh League, although he had lost to Bertha in the Champion League. Regardless of that, he kept himself going. The thought likely amused Cynthia, who was still champion of the Sinnoh League. She had never once abandoned that title either. Even with the war over, President Goodshow had offered her the position of presidency. She had declined, allowing Steven to take over instead. In fact, Steven had finally been able to walk, although whether it was normal, was still debatable. Of course, Ash suspected that Cynthia had declined the position so that she could spend whatever free time she had studying the Mystri Ruins.

Then there was Team Rocket, who were currently running around with their camera, trying to capture the essence of the wedding reception. The three of them had almost as many jobs as they had had disguises. Now they were reporters, jumping around and filming events, broadcasting them to the public. They were only so famous because of their role in tying up loose ends after the war (and during it). Without their assistance, the League may never have caught all of Koga's supporters. The group of them was set to be released from incarceration soon, but their power had been utterly broken, the most of them not allowed to be Gym Leaders or Elite Four members ever again.

Turning away from Barry, Ash's eyes lit upon May and Dawn. May herself seemed to be commenting on the size of Dawn's belly and Ash couldn't help but silently agree. May herself had yet to get married to drew, though the two were in a constantly tumultuous relationship. The two of them were always trying to trump the other and it led to a constant situation of them arguing. Even though they had only recently become officially engaged, they were still unmarried. Dawn, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. She had been married to Kenny since they turned eighteen, four years ago. Now, naturally, they were expecting their first child and couldn't be any happier. Because of that fact, she had to leave the Pokemon Contest circuit and instead became a Pokemon Fashion Designer, Kenny serving as her manager.

"What are you thinking about?" sounded his wife's voice next to him and Ash turned to look at her with a smile.

"How big Dawn's gotten." he answered her.

"Yeah, I'm sure she's expecting any day now. It was a real service that they didn't ask her to stand up in the wedding." Ash laughed in agreement, downing the rest of his wine. "Ash, have you…"

"Yeah…"

"You know, you'd be a great father."

"Hmm…"

"Well, I'm ready to have kids…whenever you're ready."

"Okay." Misty just patted him on the shoulder and walked away. Ash set his glass down and stood up. Shaking his limbs out, he walked over to door that lead to the small beachside exit from the Pokemon League. As soon as he stepped outside, he breathed in the fresh air until he noticed the lone figure staring out at the sea. "What're you doing here?"

"I was invited, idiot." the voice replied and Ash ran over to him.

"I meant, why are you out here? The party's inside." Ash motioned toward the building and Paul shrugged. Glancing over Paul, he looked even more mature than he had seven years ago. On top of that, he was a great trainer. Paul had challenged the Battle Frontier and had finally beaten Brandon. He didn't decline their offer to become a Frontier Brain and was, instead, taking the time to train and become strong enough to be one in the end. To this end, he was always challenging Ash and the two of them used each other to test out their strategies against one another. It was a friendship for sure, even if it was a strange one.

"I'm not one for parties, you know that." Paul told him.

"Yeah, I was surprised you stayed most of the time through my wedding."

"Shut it." A comfortable silence settled between the two of them as they stared at the waves. "I'm going traveling again."

"You never do stay still."

"I'll be the last time. I'm taking up the Battle Frontier after this."

"Sounds good." Paul scoffed and turned to him, holding his hand out. Ash clasped it and smiled at him. "Take care then, Paul."

"You too, Ash." A nod later and the two men separated, Paul walking away, down the beach. Ash stared after him a moment as Misty came up to his side.

"He's going away again?"

"What can we say? We're men who can't stay still."

"If you were, I'd be bored." Ash laughed at that and quickly took Misty's hand in his own.

"Come on, let's go back inside." Misty laughed in response to his own reply and started dragging Ash back in. Ash looked at the shining pillar of crystal, glinting in the sunset and smiled.

Cyrus was wrong. He believed that humans were selfish, incorrigible creatures, the same with Pokemon. He had believed that because of the life he had and the losses he had suffered. Cyrus believed that the spirit was a broken thing. That it was weak and worthless. But Ash knew that he was wrong. Just in this moment, was it so obvious. He knew it when Pikachu jumped onto his shoulder. The spirit was so much stronger than anything else in this world. Because of the spirit, they were able to persist through the most perilous challenges. It was because of the spirit that they had been able to beat him.

Because the spirit was powerful. Because it had the power to make happiness.

Sadness.

Hate.

Anger.

Love.

But most of all, it was the spirit's ability to remain obstinate through all trials, and to endure until the very end. That, Ash knew, was the most powerful thing in the world. They would keep going. They would survive until the very end. They had proven Cyrus wrong. They were alive.

Ash pulled Misty in closer as they walked back in. The sun sank lower as they stepped in the building, and a small crack appeared in the crystalline statue that was displayed before the entire world.

THE END


Author's Note: There it is! We're done at last. Two and a half years and I have finally completed this project. I have to thank everyone who has stuck with me through this beast of a project. Now, I know that many of you are probably wondering whether I'm going to do anything similar to this project or if I will dabble within this universe a bit more. Unfortunately, I'm going to have say that anything else like this is out of the question. This story essentially became an action/shonen piece and those get very difficult to write after a while. As for dabbling in the universe, I may write those oneshots I had planned, but that may not be for a while, simply because of my other project. That's right, for those of you who have not realized, I have another project. If you're a fan of Fullmetal Alchemist then check out my story TO CATCH A KILLER. This will be the primary focus of my efforts from here on out. It's not an action or epic story, instead being more of an emotional piece but just as good if not better. Otherwise, I may see you again if I write those oneshots, but you may have to wait a while. Either way, I've talked for long enough. Thank you, all of you, for your continued support and don't forget to REVIEW and, of course: Dare to Be Silly, now and forever.

Epicocity